Morning headlines: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 | St. Louis Public Radio

Morning headlines: Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jul 27, 2011

Nixon seeking extension for Joplin debris clean-up

Mo.  Gov. Jay Nixon is seeking extension of a federal program covering most of the cost of removing debris from the May tornado in Joplin. Nixon filed a request Tuesday with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to extend the Expedited Debris Removal Program for Joplin until Aug. 31. It's currently scheduled to expire Aug. 7.

Under the program, the federal government pays 90 percent of the cost of rapid removal of debris from areas of extensive or catastrophic damage. The federal share falls to 75 percent once the program expires.

Nixon says more than 1.1 cubic yards of debris have already been removed under the program. The May 22 tornado destroyed about 8,000 homes and businesses in Joplin and killed more than 150 people.

Number of Missourians receiving food and health assistance on the rise

The number of low-income people receiving food and health assistance care from Missouri continues to rise, though the rate of growth has slowed during the past year.

Figures from the Department of Social Services show more than 944,000 people received food stamps in May, the latest month for which statistics are available. That's up 16 percent from the same month two years ago, but up less than 5 percent from last year.

Missouri had slightly more than 900,000 people enrolled in the Medicaid health care program. That's up almost 7 percent from May 2009, but just 1 percent from a year ago.

Herculaneum lead smelter case in jury's hands

A lawsuit accusing the former owners of an eastern Missouri lead smelter of negligence is in the hands of a St. Louis jury. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that after three months of trial, the case went to the jury Tuesday.

The lawsuit involves two former owners of the smelter in Herculaneum: Fluor Corp. of Texas and Virginia-based A.T. Massey Coal.

The suit focuses on the period of 1986 to 1994 and the impact of the smelter on 16 people who grew up near it. The owners are accused of exposing them to elevated lead levels with effects such as IQ loss and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

An attorney for the defendants said the relationship between lead and its harmful effects in children was less clear in the 1980s and 1990s.